Third largest of the Greek Islands, Lesbos doesn’t attract the clubbers, drinkers and party people that many of the other islands are famous for. It’s incredibly lush in its centre with olive, pine, chestnut and oak trees providing perfumed and shaded drives with stunning views down to the coast. The capital and airport location is Mytilene and the main resorts are Molyvos and Eressos but there are endless idyllic coves and quaint fishing villages to explore.
Molyvos is the most popular resort on the island and is in a stunning location at the foot of a castle-topped hill on one of the prettiest harbours (see also Samos) in Greece. The town attracts visitors from all over Europe giving it a cosmopolitan atmosphere throughout the summer months. The harbour is the thriving centre of the town with its restaurant tables and chairs filling every inch of waterside space and sardines and fresh fish are the order of the day. Wander the steep, cobbled streets of the town up to the Genoese castle on the mound for ruins and breathtaking (literally, by the time you’ve reached it) views over the town.
Shop at the many craft shops that surround the harbour and line the streets of the town and where local artists and artisans spend their days beneath the wisteria branches and their lilac shows of flowers that lend shade to the gentle but persistent climb through the village to the castle. No-one should consider working up a sweat on these streets, take it at Greek pace stopping to browse the shops or to take a break in one of the charismatic restaurants and ouzeries whose terraces overlook the bay.
Eressos has the most beautiful beach on the island at Skala Erressos. The resort is very popular with lesbian couples as it was the birthplace of Sappho, a lyricist of Ancient Greece whose verses speak of love between women. As a result, lots of the nightlife seems to be aimed at ‘women only’ so clearly not the venue for a stag do, but nowadays it’s also proving to be a popular family holiday destination. The whole place has a very sophisticated yet bohemian feel to it with multi-national restaurants, homeopathy stores and posters advertising yoga and bars whose bamboo covered terraces are raised on stilts above the beach and are furnished with hammocks and huge, soft sofas. Sink into one of those cushions and entire days can drift away in near-comatose relaxation until darkness falls and lights dance on the waves lapping a few feet below you – bliss. Despite the Greenham Common influence, Eressos is still surprisingly authentic Greek and moving away from the beach takes you into the old town of tavernas and black-clad widows.
We loved Lesbos and were amazed at how green it was. Molyvos, and particularly the Seahorse Hotel, was for us the most idyllic of locations. We found Lesbos to be a little cooler than many of the other Greek Islands which would go some way to accounting for its more fertile landscape. This is the only place in Greece we’ve ever been where Andy had to put a cardi’ on in July, on the beach. But we suspect we were just unlucky that year.
Buzztrips would recommend the island to anyone looking for authentic Greece with good facilities but without over-commercialisation.
Hiring a car and exploring the island provides a constant source of secrets uncovered and minor heart flutters as gawping at the awesome scenery is not something you should really do on some of those roads. But it’s hard to beat the wow factor of emerging from scented shady forests to a horizon where the olive trees cascade down to white walled, red roofed cottages clustered around a tranquil bay, and the only way to discern between the intense blue of the sea and sky is by the glistening on the water.